KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Devex Interviews Former World Bank Country Leader For China About Trump Administration's World Bank President Nominee

Devex: Q&A: Former World Bank China director on David Malpass
“U.S. President Donald Trump’s nomination of David Malpass to be the next president of the World Bank has left many wondering what it might mean for the institution to be led by someone who shares the Trump administration’s perspective on a range of global issues. Under Malpass’ potential leadership, how might the bank position itself within the ongoing economic and geopolitical battle between the United States and China, for example? Will Trump’s nominee turn the World Bank against China? U.S. President Donald Trump nominated David Malpass, a key architect of the administration’s ongoing feud with China, to be the next president of the World Bank. Devex spoke to Yukon Huang, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and former World Bank country director for China, about what kind of power a new president would have to reshape the institution’s approach — and whether he would use that power to advance the Trump administration’s agenda, or the bank’s…” (Igoe, 2/14).

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U.S. Considering Airdropping Aid Into Venezuela, Providing Additional Support

ABC News: Venezuela standoff extends to oil sector as questions swirl over humanitarian aid
“Venezuela’s growing parallel opposition government extended its reach to the all-important oil sector on Wednesday when the country’s National Assembly moved to appoint new boards of directors to the state oil company and its refiner CITGO. … The move promises to further escalate the already-tense political standoff between President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who has claimed the presidency as his own. … The political crisis has been fueled by an ongoing economic and humanitarian crisis that has resulted in spikes in child malnutrition and shortages of basic foods and medicine. … Guaidó’s declaration that he would allow humanitarian aid to enter the country by Feb. 23 puts an ultimatum on the country’s armed forces…” (Weddle, 2/13).

Devex: USAID considering airdropping aid into blockaded Venezuela
“The U.S. Agency for International Development is considering airdrops to deliver aid to Venezuela as the military continues to block humanitarian assistance from crossing the border, the agency’s Latin America and the Caribbean bureau head said Wednesday. Steve Olive, USAID’s acting assistant administrator for the Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, told U.S. lawmakers in a hearing that his agency is in daily communication with Venezuela’s interim president Juan Guaidó regarding the logistics of delivering humanitarian aid to the economically collapsed nation…” (Welsh, 2/14).

Politico: Trump preps Venezuela aid package amid push to oust Maduro
“The Trump administration is strongly considering sending millions of dollars in additional humanitarian aid to Venezuela, according to three U.S. officials, as the country grapples with a mounting political crisis and its citizens face widespread food shortages. Senior administration officials have spent weeks quietly developing the aid plan, which could be included in President Donald Trump’s upcoming fiscal year 2020 budget request to Congress. The president also privately discussed the administration’s plans to send additional aid to Venezuela during an off-the-record meeting with television anchors last week ahead of his State of the Union address…” (Cook/Restuccia/Johnson, 2/13).

Additional coverage of the situation in Venezuela is available from Bloomberg and The New York Times.

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U.S. House Passes Bill To Halt U.S. Support Of Saudi Arabia In Yemen War

POLITICO: House rebuffs Trump’s foreign policy with Yemen vote
“The House on Wednesday passed a bill to halt U.S. involvement in Yemen’s civil war — yet another bipartisan rebuke of President Donald Trump’s foreign policy. The legislation now heads to the Senate, where proponents expect it to narrowly pass in the coming weeks before arriving on Trump’s desk, setting up the first veto of his presidency. The War Powers resolution cuts off U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition, which is bombing Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. The civil war has sparked a humanitarian crisis in the country, including widespread famine and cholera outbreaks…” (Desiderio, 2/13).

New York Times: House Votes to Halt Aid for Saudi Arabia’s War in Yemen
“…The 248-to-177 vote, condemning a nearly four-year conflict in Yemen that has killed thousands of civilians and inflicted a devastating famine, will pressure the Republican-controlled Senate to respond. Eighteen Republicans — almost all of them hard-line conservatives with the Freedom Caucus — voted with the Democratic majority…” (Edmondson/Savage, 2/13).

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The Verge Examines Public Health Implications Of Green New Deal, Relationship Between Climate Change, Mosquito-Borne Disease

The Verge: Mosquito control could slow the spread of disease in a warming world
“The recently announced Green New Deal, a resolution to help address the threats of climate change, gives public health advocates a chance to confront an overlooked consequence of climate change: worsening mosquito-borne illnesses. The resolution, which outlines projects designed to boost renewables, reduce emissions, and climate-proof the country’s infrastructure, was introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA). Its goal is to extinguish potential economic, national, and social infernos that are brought on by climate change. But the plan also recognizes growing threats to public health, such as the diseases becoming far more common in a warming world. Climate change has already expanded the reach of mosquitoes that carry certain illnesses. More extreme weather events are also part of the package, and more severe storms, stronger hurricane seasons, more floods, and droughts also increase the risk of disease after a natural disaster. … Clusters of mosquito-borne disease occur throughout the world, especially in densely populated countries with less developed health care systems. But that doesn’t mean that the U.S. is immune to outbreaks originating on foreign soil. Diseases don’t respect borders…” (Levy, 2/13).

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Devex Interviews Outgoing MCC Acting Head About Agency's History, Role In U.S. Development Efforts

Devex: Jonathan Nash on MCC’s evolution from ‘bold experiment’ to data-driven agency
“Jonathan Nash’s tenure at the Millennium Challenge Corporation has been dynamic. What began with the stress of a startup ended with the challenge of navigating the 15-year-old agency through a tumultuous period of change. … For the last two years he has, on and off, led the agency in an acting capacity as it awaits a U.S. Senate-approved CEO. Wednesday was his last day. … As Nash prepared to leave … he sat down with Devex to share how MCC has gone from ‘a bold experiment’ to a data-driven agency looking to expand how and where it works…” (Saldinger, 2/14).

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As Measles Outbreaks Continue, Media Outlets Report On Developments, Role Of Vaccine Hesitancy

Associated Press/ABC News: 8 die of measles in Ukraine this year as outbreak worsens
“Eight people have died of measles in Ukraine since the start of the year, already half as many as died in the whole of 2018, authorities said on Wednesday. The Health Ministry said in a statement that two deaths from the extremely contagious viral disease have been recorded since Saturday. … The World Health Organization’s data show that Ukraine logged 53,000 confirmed measles cases last year, accounting for more than half of all cases in Europe. Skyrocketing measles rates in Ukraine are believed to be due to vaccine refusal as well as a temporary breakdown in vaccine orders by the government a few years ago. Ukraine’s efforts to battle the outbreak are also hampered by political infighting less than two months before the presidential election…” (2/13).

Washington Post: Anti-vaxxers are spreading conspiracy theories on Facebook, and the company is struggling to stop them
“As a disturbing number of measles outbreaks crop up across the United States, Facebook is facing challenges combating widespread misinformation about vaccinations on its platform, which has become a haven for the anti-vaccination movement. The World Health Organization recently named ‘vaccine hesitancy’ as one of the biggest global health threats of 2019. But on Facebook, in public pages and private groups with tens of thousands of members, false information about vaccines — largely stemming from a debunked 1998 study that tied immunizations to autism — is rampant and tough to pin down. In the bubble of closed groups, users warn about alleged dangers of vaccinations, citing pseudoscience and conspiracy theories. Facebook has publicly declared that fighting misinformation is one of its top priorities. But when it comes to policing misleading content about vaccinations, the site faces a thorny challenge. The bulk of anti-vaccination content doesn’t violate Facebook’s community guidelines for inciting ‘real-world harm,’ according to a spokesman, and the site’s algorithms often promote unscientific pages or posts about the issue. Parents are left to wade through the mire, and as the viral spread of fake news has shown, many users have trouble distinguishing between reliable sources and unreliable ones…” (Telford, 2/13).

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CIDRAP News Provides Update On DRC Ebola Outbreak

CIDRAP News: Ebola infects 4 more in DRC as death prompts testing in Uganda
“In the latest developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Ebola outbreak, the health ministry reported four new cases, as details emerged about a suspected Ebola death that triggered a swift response in Uganda, where the man’s samples tested negative for the virus. The new cases signal continued activity in some of the outbreak’s current main hot spots, and the close-call in Uganda shows how fear of cross-border spread has prompted intensive tracking of contacts…” (Schnirring, 2/13).

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STAT Examines Bird Flu, Potential For Resurgence

STAT: What happened to bird flu? How a major threat to human health faded from view
“Just over a dozen years ago, a bird flu virus known as H5N1 was charting a destructive course through Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East, ravaging poultry in apocalyptic numbers and killing six in 10 humans known to have contracted it. The overall human death toll was low — in the hundreds — but scientists and government officials feared that the virus could ignite a human pandemic reminiscent of the catastrophic 1918 Spanish flu. Emergency plans were drafted, experimental H5N1 vaccines were created and tested, antiviral drugs were stockpiled. And then … nothing happened. The virus continued to kill chickens and to occasionally infect and sometimes kill people. But as the years passed, the number of human H5N1 cases subsided. There has not been a single H5N1 human infection detected since February 2017. This is the good news. The bad news is that the situation could change in an instant…” (Branswell, 2/13).

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More News In Global Health

The Atlantic: ‘She’s Not a Woman. She Doesn’t Have a Child.’ (Szynol, 2/13).

Devex: Disability inclusive health care has mountains to climb (Rogers, 2/13).

Inter Press Service: How Devastating is Climate Change for World Peace & Security? (Deen, 2/13).

IRIN: Briefing: How the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh is changing (Loy, 2/13).

Reuters: Singapore police say American accused of leaking HIV data ‘pathological liar’ (2/13).

The Telegraph: New outbreak of deadly ‘camel flu’ reported in Oman (Gulland, 2/13).

The Telegraph: WHO scrambles to contain growing Lassa fever outbreak in West Africa (Blomfield, 2/13).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Lawmaker who changed Jordan’s rape law takes on child marriage (Kanso, 2/12).

Xinhua News: WHO seeks 43.5 mln USD for urgent health aid in Libya in 2019 (2/14).

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Editorials and Opinions

U.S. Congress Should Support Robust Funding For Childhood Immunizations, Ensure Measles Eliminated Globally, Opinion Piece Says

Seattle Times: Why we need global efforts to prevent measles at home
Susan Tyler, advocate for the U.N. Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign

“…No child should suffer from measles when a lifesaving vaccine exists. … [W]e must invest in preventing measles to begin with — otherwise, the costs of containing and treating outbreaks when they occur are far too high. … Contagious diseases like measles don’t respect borders. Although the U.S. eliminated measles in 2000 as the result of a safe, effective, and affordable vaccine, we are seeing a resurgence of measles as travelers and visitors continue to bring it into the country and the number of unvaccinated children in the U.S. continues to rise. … To keep all children safe, we must support the elimination of measles everywhere. … It’s time we double down on this progress. The U.S. has been a leader in the global fight against measles. Elected officials in Washington, D.C., need to continue strong funding for measles prevention and other health risks. It’s our global responsibility — and it’s a fight we can win. Plus, we can make measles elimination a reality with minimal investment. … That is why I’m urging my representative, Dr. Kim Schrier, D-Issaquah, and our senators to support robust funding for childhood immunizations. Every child should have the chance to lead a healthy life, both here and abroad” (2/13).

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'Self-Determination', 'Meritocratic Process' Should Drive Selection Of World Bank Leadership

The Atlantic: The U.S. Doesn’t Deserve the World Bank Presidency
Annie Lowrey, contributing editor at The Atlantic covering economic policy

“…[Trump’s nominee to lead the World Bank, David] Malpass, a former Wall Street economist, once criticized institutions such as the bank as ‘intrusive’ and argued that multilateralism ‘has gone substantially too far — to the point where it is hurting U.S. and global growth.’ As of yet, there is little appetite from foreign countries or the bank’s board to fight the nomination. But it is a missed opportunity for the institution and its client countries. And this whole sorry episode makes it even clearer that the United States should lose, or relinquish, its leadership of the bank. A gentleman’s agreement dating to just after World War II holds that the United States chooses the head of the World Bank, and chooses an American. … This arrangement made good sense at first: Back in the Cold War era, the United States wanted to help spur capitalist development in poor countries and provided the bulk of the bank’s financing to make that happen. But the gentleman’s agreement is no longer justifiable. Washington is a major funder of the bank, but not a dominant funder. … The United States is no longer the major donor to the bank, nor is the bank a more important priority for the United States than it is for the countries it offers loans and advice. American control over the bank is an unjustifiable tradition that harms the institution. Self-determination and a truly meritocratic process for choosing its leadership would be good for the bank, and for the world…” (2/12).

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Providing Access To Family Planning Services In Conflict Settings Critical

Devex: Opinion: For women in conflict settings, family planning services are often first to go
Ashraf Fouad, country director of DKT Egypt

“…It’s every woman’s right to choose when and if to have children. … Often, in times of conflict, the right or ability to access family planning is one of the first things women lose. … It’s not just about delivering contraceptive products to men and women at a price everyone can afford. Family planning organizations must also find creative ways to train providers and midwives to ensure contraceptive availability; to avert unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and maternal and child mortality; and to help ensure that contraceptive supplies are delivered safely and timely to remaining gynecologists and pharmacies. … Supporting women in choosing a better future for themselves, especially in places where there are social and political conflicts, is what drives these programs. And we will continue to ensure access to family planning, which overshadows differences in culture, economics, politics, gender, and religion” (2/13).

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Indian Government Should Declare Country's Air Pollution Problem A Public Health Emergency

Washington Post: I’m a chest surgeon in India. It’s clear that pollution is a health emergency.
Arvind Kumar, surgeon at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi and founder of the Lung Care Foundation

“…[I]t is time to call India’s deadly pollution crisis a public health emergency. … The government must declare an emergency and swiftly enact transformational change in policies regarding energy and transportation, the two main contributors to air pollution. … If India’s government declared a public health emergency, it would increase awareness and safety measures among the public. The emergency declaration should come with clear guidelines for the public regarding when to avoid outdoor activity and when to keep children indoors. Such a declaration would also add heavy public pressure on government officials to clean up India’s air. We know that stringent air pollution control measures work — they have effectively cleaned the air of many developed countries. In contrast, in low- and middle-income countries, 98 percent of all children under five live in areas where air pollution levels exceed the World Health Organization’s guidelines. India is among the worst affected countries, with 14 of the 15 most polluted cities in the world in 2016. … It is time for the human race to keep fossil fuels in the ground and shift completely to the abundant and clean above-ground sources of energy such as sun, water, and wind. This is the only way to ensure the gift of clean air to our children. Our future depends on it” (2/13).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

'Science Speaks' Profiles New Members Of House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee On Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, International Organizations

IDSA’s “Science Speaks”: 116th Congress: House Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health gets four new Democrats, two new Republicans
Antigone Barton, senior editor and writer at “Science Speaks,” highlights new members on the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations (2/13).

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MFAN Releases Statement On 1st Congressional Clearance Detailing Restructuring Of USAID

Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network: MFAN Applauds First Congressional Clearance on USAID Restructuring and Encourages Further Action
In a statement delivered on behalf of MFAN, Co-chairs George Ingram, Lester Munson, and Tessie San Martin applaud “Congress for clearing the first of nine Congressional Notifications (CN) detailing the proposed reorganization and restructuring of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)” (2/13).

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CGD Post Examines DAC, China Engagement In International Development

Center for Global Development: Common Values, Common Rules: How Should DAC Countries Engage with China in International Development?
Stephan Kyburz, visiting fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD), and Yunnan Chen, examine DAC country engagement with China in international development. The authors write, “The People’s Republic of China is not a new development actor, but it is now a major one, and it brings distinct historical experiences and approaches to the table. While foreign aid and models of development have traditionally been the domain of Northern (transatlantic) countries, the emergence of new global powers — such as China — cannot be ignored. … A truly global international development regime should be based on shared values and common rules, while also respecting the wants and rights of recipient countries and societies. If the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) — the ‘traditional donors’ — find common ground and build mutual trust with China, improved understanding and learning, and transparency, may follow. The DAC countries need to find the right balance between building a trusted partnership with China and calling for integrity from all partners. For traditional donors to engage more effectively with China, they first must understand China’s different approach to development…” (2/12).

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U.N. Dispatch Examines Crowdfunding As Potential Strategy For Financing SDGs

U.N. Dispatch: Crowdfunding the Sustainable Development Goals
Journalist Joanne Lu examines the use of crowdfunding as a potential strategy to finance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Lu writes, “GoFundMe for the Sustainable Development Goals? It’s more feasible than you may think. A new study from the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School says crowdfunding may be a viable strategy for financing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). … Some say we should increase trade and aid (official development assistance). Others point to blended finance, using public or philanthropic funding to increase private sector investment in sustainable development, and impact investing in businesses with the expectation of a positive social benefit as well as financial return. But the authors of this study say the U.N. should think like a startup and launch a crowdfunding platform, along the lines of Indiegogo or GoFundMe, specifically to raise money for projects that align with the SDGs…” (2/13).

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Access To High Quality Health Care Important, Says Novartis Social Business Head

World Economic Forum: Access to healthcare is not enough — high quality care has to be the target
Harald Nusser, head of Novartis Social Business at Novartis, discusses the importance and development of a framework for quality health care and writes, “Delivery of health care in low-resource settings, particularly in chronic disease, is as much about quality of care as availability of treatment” (2/13).

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From the U.S. Government

U.S. Invests $40M To Support UHC Goal In Ethiopia

U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia: U.S. Investing $40 Million to Support Goal of Universal Health Coverage in Ethiopia
“Today the United States launched a new, five-year USD $40 million Health Financing Improvement Program to invest in expanding Ethiopia’s capacity to provide quality affordable health care to citizens across the country. Under the new program, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will work with the Ministry of Health to strengthen policy and financing reforms that enable public and private entities to better provide primary health services while reducing out-of-pocket expenses for Ethiopians. USAID’s Health Financing Improvement Program builds upon the successes of earlier investments like USAID’s community-based health insurance initiative, which currently provides medical coverage to nearly 20 million Ethiopians nationwide. Over the next five years, the new program will focus on mobilizing increased domestic resources and streamlining medical insurance schemes to expand coverage to millions more people. The project will also work with public and private health care providers to better utilize resources and revenues to finance their services…” (2/14).

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